Monday, April 25, 2016

The Spark

Her favorite time of day was early morning, as the sun climbed from the horizon. It didn't matter to Sophia what the weather brought, only that a new day had arrived with the glorious dawn. The old traumas of night could be left in the dark purgatory of her memory.

She savored these solitary moments, before her daughter awoke, in their new home overlooking the Pacific. Every morning she took her cup of tea and sat in a lotus position on her outside deck. She'd concentrate on the ocean, meditating on the mysterious wisdom of nature and God. She envisaged her body, soul and mind uniting with the elements of the Earth and all creation, until a tingling sensation took root in her brain and massaged its way down the length of her body.

The feeling of connectedness was so intense that if a tsunami had risen up to engulf her, she was certain her entire being would become fluid. All the parts of her would gently disperse into the waves and she’d be reborn.

By the end of her morning ritual, Sophia was often overwhelmed with such a sense of peace and love that she couldn’t remember ever not feeling so whole and complete. Yet for most of Sophia's life she was indeed incomplete and disconnected, from both her surroundings and herself.

She was born near midnight at the cusp of a cursed day into a cruel world where physical death was a guarantee, but survival of the mind was constantly in doubt . She learned that if her body could survive the predators that fed their sick desires on cherub flesh, her mind would eventually wake up in a flood of light. It was in those quiet hours, when the monsters lay sleeping, that Sophia learned to breathe and gather strength for the tribulations she would again face after the sun had set.

She became so adept at detaching her mind from her physical self that she could endure all manner of pain, without so much as a grimace. However, if Sophia didn't find some beacon of hope in this bleak existence, she was in danger of losing herself to nothing entirely.

Who really knows what sparks the light that illuminates the darkness. The answer to this question is different for everyone. Some will never find the spark, others won't recognize it, but a few will see.

For Sophia it was the sparkle in her newborn's eyes with the first rays of the morning sun.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Doctor at my Window

I stand at the window and watch three overly confident male physicians strutting below. They walk like the Sultan of Brunei, ridiculous, repulsive little men with big egos and an infinite capacity for self-gratification and entitlement. 

Their confidence is derived from a boys club of debauchery, deception, exclusive opportunity, inherited privilege, an engorged sense of superiority, astounding hypocrisy and the celebrity-like worship of a misguided, misinformed populace, not to mention a seemingly endless supply of female insecurity that fuels their rutting preoccupations. Swine.

The differences between the paltry Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah and the semen-driven doctors are ones of mere degree. The Sultan is at the extreme end of wealth, indulgence, self-glorification, human exploitation, greed, lechery, indifferent cruelty, contrived intelligence and spiritual emptiness. He is purely a temporal animal who will return to dust and disappear into nothingness once he dies, which hopefully is as pleasant an affair as the deaths of those who no doubt will be lost to torture, stoning, complications of punitive amputations and brutal floggings under his rule after he helpfully introduced Sharia law to Brunei, laws which he and his equally repugnant, pedo-looking, herpetic brother are themselves guilty of breaking on a regular basis. Sadistic pigs.

As for the doctors, perhaps "sadistic pig" is a bit harsh, but "rutting swine" seems accurate enough. All three of the doctors I am currently surveying from my window are married, but none are particularly discreet about their frequent romps with infidelity or in any way ashamed of the lives their more or less open cheating has negatively impacted. 


If you're going to indiscriminately fuck a bunch of women, at least don't be married with a gaggle of kids when you do it. Don't do it when you've taken marriage vows and don't do it when you've taken a Hippocratic oath not to use your position of authority to prey on the vulnerable. And if you can't manage any of that, at least be upfront with the young ladies you're violating so they know exactly what they are getting into and don't harbor any illusions of happily-ever-after with you.






In addition to devastated families, all this pathological infidelity and casually tossed aside, single-use female bodies has been responsible for at least two suicide attempts, as well as countless psychological problems and the occasional jealousy-induced criminal act. Although, I guess if you were the kind of man who stopped to consider how your actions might devastate another person's life you would not be indiscriminately fucking a bunch of people like an insentient Energizer Dildo on permanent recharge in the first place.

"It's amazing how these guys get away with what they get away with in this town, " I turn to Belinda, thoroughly disgusted at the mere sight of these men everyone else is so smitten with (other than of course the people whose lives they'e ruined, but even they seem remarkably forgiving).

Belinda happens to be one of the smitten ones, which I suppose is part of the reason I like to comment on them, just to needle her. It injects some adrenaline into an otherwise paperclip and blunt pencil kind of a day, where only casual business attire is allowed, not like a blue jeans Friday. 

It's the kind of day where the biggest catastrophe is that Lenore used water straight from the tap to fill the Keurig yet again, even though she's been told repeatedly to use the purified water from the cooler. This infuriates Belinda: "So help me, if that cute water-boy stops coming in here because of damn Lenore making management think we don't need weekly water deliveries anymore, I'll KILL HER MYSELF!"

Basically my contempt for a philandering penis with an equally ineffectual medical degree is distracting Belinda and saving Lenore's life. You're welcome Lenore. 

"Look at them preening like ugly peacocks who have no idea how hideous they are," I continue with as much disdain as I can possibly muster, "I hope one of these incessantly squawking crows dive-bombs the one in the middle, your friend, Dr. Suna". 

I don't look at Belinda but I sense I'm getting under her skin. This particular "lady doctor" is one of her favorites. They have a good, flirty working relationship that makes me want to stab my hand with one of the plastic forks I keep on my desk any time I'm in the same room as one of their giggly interactions. 

Belinda takes a deep, steadying inspiration before addressing me.

"That's because you're a man hater. I find him amusing. He's funny and smart and knows his stuff. He goes out of his way to answer questions and makes his patients feel at ease. Who cares what he does in his personal life."

This is a refrain I've heard many times and I don't agree with any of it, which Belinda knows. I, however, decide to ignore the "what a person does in his personal life has no bearing on his professional life" non-sequitur. And I'm more or less desensitized to the bogus "man-hater" label, so I should ignore that, too. It's a bullshit label anyway, but as I've gotten older and wiser, I've taken the stance that if it keeps assholes away from me then I will no longer look this gift horse in the mouth. Serendipity.

In truth, the only thing I really hate is redundant, scripted speech that everyone mindlessly delivers like dumb-struck lines in a poorly rehearsed, ill-conceived episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians. It's only more absurdity and contrived reality, but without the Frankenstein-esque plastic enhancements and over-compensated playhouses that gobble up an unfair share of space and resources. 

The Lamar Odom sleazebags in this contrived reality are named Bill, Bob or Joe, use crystal meth cut with rat poison, a.k.a. the poor man's coke, and get their illicit sex not from fancy legal brothels in Nevada, but from strung-out single mothers with deadened souls, who have lost their kids and fill the void with IV drug use and degrading sex acts at $10 a pop, performed in darkened back alleys or bed-bug infested motels that rent by the minute

With these bitter ruminations running through my mind, I correct Belinda, saying, "I'm not a man-hater, Belinda, only a hater of despicable behavior. It's not my fault most of that despicable behavior happens to come from men. Don't blame the observer."

Belinda gives me her signature look, which says she doesn't believe or agree with a word I'm saying.

But this is how we do things so I solider on: "Also, why does Suna always have to come in here bragging about what a great life he's having with dramatic tales of his travels and conquests? Shut up. I'm already not enjoying my life over here, I don't need some pretentious douche-bag rubbing it in with one of his drive-by self-aggrandizing stories."

Then, as if by cosmic cue, Dr. Suna comes slithering into the room like the snake he is. Belinda glances at me in alarm, worried he might have heard us talking, not that she would have anything to worry about. I'm the ONLY one voicing discontent with the status quo.

Besides, he doesn't know he's Dr. Suna. Granted, my pet name for him is not very original, but it makes me laugh almost every time I use it. Sultan H-Ass-Anal, Lamar O-Dumb and Dr. Suna aren't the only ones who need their cheap thrills. My form of cheap thrill, however, doesn't cost anything and will not spread disease or further unravel the moral and intellectual fabric of civilized society.  And anyway, the name Suna is fitting. He is a backwards, lax sphincter and portal for fecal matter.

In any event, he must sense I don't care for his stench and bypasses me completely as if I don't exist, going straight for Belinda. He is all ingratiating smiles, with a "favor" to ask, but first he wants to show off pictures from his latest trip: kite-boarding with his Stepford wife, Mrs. Doctor Suna, in Venezuela. You see? I am an equal opportunity "hater". I dislike shitty men AND their consenting victims. 

Unfortunately (for Belinda, who as it turns out is a non-consenting victim), the first picture that appears is a close-up of a Pap smear in progress. Dr. Suna laughs off the mistake and jokes, "Oops, gyne-porn". He then continues to swipe through the pics as if it's no big deal that he's just traumatized Belinda's eyes for the rest of her life, or that he's violated some unnamed woman's right to privacy. 

He keeps swiping until he comes to the images of his wife risking her life surfing rough tropical waters, apparently for his viewing pleasure. As Belinda struggles to restore her composure after being eye-raped with that unexpected visual, she stammers, "That looks dangerous!"

Dr. Suna jokes again that this latest wife might be quiet but she's a daredevil; willing to try anything, that one. "She'd surprise you", he says with a salacious grin. Anyway, if she did die in some freak kiting accident, not a problem, he goes on. He likes to "trade in for a new one every 7 or 8 years" anyhow, so bonus! Saves him messy divorce proceedings. Suna appears quite pleased with how funny he thinks he's being, oblivious to how uncomfortable he is making Belinda, who laughs politely but who I can see is mildly horrified by this entire situation. 

I imagine she is reconsidering right about now that I may not be off the mark regarding Dr. Suna after all. Pustule.

As for me, in addition to being happy Suna himself continues to prove my low opinion of him is correct, I'm also happy my unfriendly "hater" persona pays off once again. Of the two of us, Belinda is the only one with the closeup of some stranger's prolapsed cervix forever burned in her mind. Not a pleasant thing to be carrying around in your head. My own conscience is clear.

Dr. Suna mercifully finishes up his slide show, asks for the favor he could have done himself, and  turns to leave when Lenore's best friend, Henrietta, comes bustling in.

She blocks the doorway so Suna can't easily leave and asks him if he is interested in sponsoring her for the women's shelter fundraiser she is helping organize. She understandably assumes he is a perfect fit for such a fundraiser since women's issues are his speciality, not to mention the thing that has provided him with wealth, prestige and privilege. Even more to the point, it's the thing that's given him a sultan-like status in this community, reminiscent of his anal-twin-flame there, Sultan H-Ass-Anal Bolkiah, and a free pass to fuck around without consequence as much as his Viagra-controlled erection allows. As such, you'd think he'd want to give back somehow.

You'd think that, but you'd be wrong. I man like this does not humble himself. It has to be done for him, either through divine intervention or by another more advanced animal on a stronger branch of the evolutionary tree. Now, if Henrietta, Belinda and everyone else around here looked beyond superficial nonsense, they would know this intuitively and NOT AT ALL assume Suna, being the piece of shit doctor that he is, would humble himself. 

Sure enough, much to my smug satisfaction, he answers Henrietta with, "Women's shelter? What about men? Is there a shelter for men who get beat up by women?"

He makes this asshole statement in the context of a recent murder/suicide of a domestically abused mother at the end of her rope, who had just left her violent husband with their severely autistic son in tow, no support, no money, no job, and nowhere to go other than a shelter she couldn't get into because it was full. This woman may have even been his patient.

In light of the above, Henrietta is shocked into silence at Suna's response, an unusual situation for her, normally a total blabbermouth. 

With Henrietta's uncharacteristic silence, Suna realizes he might have taken what he later explains is another one of his hilarious "jokes" too far. He shrugs and throws a crumpled $20 bill at Henrietta, which as far as I'm concerned is no more charitable than had he flung a nail clipping at her head. His 20 bucks is that inconsequential to him. If anything, when this asshole "gives" any amount of money away he's doing something for HIMSELF, not any one else, certainly not any one in need. It causes him NO hardship whatsoever.

Suna trounces off without a care after this, shoving past Henrietta, who looks a little lost now. After he's gone, she sheepishly admits she had expected him to give her at least $100, was counting on it.

In renewed disgust, I dig through my Old Mother Hubbard purse, and to my surprise manage to scrape together $36.85 to give to Henrietta. At the same time, Belinda digs through her slightly fiscally healthier purse and between us, and with Suna's pathetic $20, Henrietta leaves with more than the $100 she had come for. 

I look at Belinda expectantly.

"Okay, okay," she says in partial surrender, "you win. He's an anus...but I still like him".

Without another word I return to my desk, to the fork, and stab myself. The fork bends against the back of my hand and a couple of the tines fling off, hitting me painlessly in the face before falling dramatically to the floor.

Belinda watches my sorry display of self-harm, unmoved, and drying asks, "Feel better?"

I don't look at her as I reach down to pick up the broken-off fork bits and say, "I think I've made my point."

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Deafening Silence

There were 12 children in total, some step-siblings, some half and some full — all mashed together like misfit puzzle pieces forced into a distorted family portrait.

Papa Phil did not father all twelve, but they all had at some point been under his care. The women who gave birth to these children, two of whom were once Papa Phil's wives, had all been lost to one of booze, madness or death.

Papa Phil knew he could not raise a pile of motherless kids by himself, so he took yet another wife, Muriel, when the youngest of the dozen was still in diapers. Muriel herself could not get pregnant, but desperately yearned for a baby and was thus immediately smitten with the youngest of the children.

The older kids, none of them Papa Phil's biological offspring, were more or less ignored by Muriel and terrorized by Phil. But it was a silent terror. Silence like this is loud and oppressive — it defies logic and the laws of nature. The unsaid things are the scariest things — the things no one wants to acknowledge.

The silence was therefore free to slip in between the ketchup sandwiches made with stale bread, through the soiled sheets, and around the creaking floorboards late at night when children should be soundly sleeping. They should not be wide awake concentrating with every cell of their being on some bedroom wall shadow until the silent thing is done.

Silence becomes an odd comfort when it accompanies everything one does. It is like a prison guard the prisoner comes to rely on, even after the bars have been left unlocked and the guard eliminated.

Maryanne, a middle-aged adult now, resented the guarded silence. Her siblings, by comparison, went on seemingly unscathed with a regimented existence. Maryanne could not understand their refusal to talk about what had happened to them because it consumed her. She could barely handle it, the thought of Papa Phil having gotten away with his crimes, aided and abetted by muteness. 

There did, however, come a day when she could no longer tolerate the dead air and spoke up. The power of confession, what really should have only been the therapeutic passing of an honest moment, created a dystopia Maryanne could not have anticipated. Who would have thought that with the mere utterance of a few words that so much human misery would scream forth from the silence like a million unleashed demons.

There would be suicide, addiction and homicidal rage. There would be financial ruin, prison, insanity, agony and death. All their carefully patched together lies, their precariously assembled lives, decimated by truth.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Mormons are in the Building

Belinda calls me over to the window. She looks perplexed as she watches a Mormon twosome approaching the building. They always march in pairs.

"Why would the Mormons be here?" she says in a near whisper.

She sounds scared.

"Well, there are numerous reasons why they could be here, Belinda. It's not like there's a law forbidding them from entering the building." I laugh. "Why? Do you think they're coming for you?"

It turns out the thought has crossed her mind. 

They seem to seek her out where ever she goes, especially at her home where they come knocking on a regular basis, which is partly her own fault. If you feed a stray it will invariably come back. Sometimes, if you don't set up firm boundaries from the outset, the stray will go further and muscle his way right into your house. Make himself at home. 

But make no mistake. 

He is not interested in having you domesticate him. He is using you and will come and go as he pleases. But you're an innocent and will think with self-satisfaction that he's grown to love and respect you. He has not. He mocks you when you aren't looking. 

The Mormons kind of work like that, although I imagine they are for the most part unaware that they are mocking anyone. They believe they are the righteous ones and that it is the rest of us who are confused, not them. Also, they have a manual of strategy and are prepared with circular reasoning to confound you even more.

If you're not careful, eventually, if the Mormons are successful with their door-to-door, boots on the ground strategies, planting seeds of cognitive dissonance and confusion, they will lead you right from your home into theirs, which is more of a lair than a "home". You won't know what hit you and they will have a new brick for their wall. 

I don't know how effective their approach is, and I would be interested to know their success rate, but you see Mormon and not to mention Jehovah Witness pairs everywhere so they must be catching at least some of their prey. But they are nice enough people, so if you are going to be drawn into a cult-like scenario anyway, you could do worse.

Belinda, however, is too much of a contrarian to ever be lured into a cult or be persuaded by fundamentalism of any kind. She will never be one of their caught prey, but it doesn't stop them from trying. They mistake her natural curiosity, compassion and willingness to listen and engage with them for weakness they can exploit. But Belinda is no saint and as it turns out she's the one exploiting them, even though exploitation was never her intention and she feels bad about it. 

After Belinda's initial introduction to the Mormons, which amounted to several hours-long conversations standing in her doorway, she wanted them to leave her alone. She had no plan to use them for her own means. She isn't that kind of a girl. Belinda is a giver by nature, a leaver, not a taker and definitely not a receiver. 

Basically, the Mormons charitable ways are changing Belinda, corrupting her.

And it wasn't that she didn't enjoy those early marathon conversations with them, helped by the fact they were mostly young, attractive, affable males in handsome suits who darkened her doorway. But it was getting to be too much. There are some repetitions in life that are pleasurable every time you experience them like laughing at a Seinfeld repeat, but the same conversation with a self-assured religious weirdo intent on converting you is not one of life's pleasures -- at least not as far as Belinda is concerned. 

Personally, I enjoy the weirdos. 

But you have to have boundaries. Even Patience has a right to die, especially after a long life of self-control. She gets tired. Give her a break. 

In other words, if you are going to have weirdos, especially religious ones, in your life, be kind, be amused, be willing to accept they might have some insight to share, but do not be a doormat. Or as I like to call a female trapped in the role of lipsticked-android, one programmed to obey and conditioned to accept abuse: a Dormata.

To avoid becoming a Dormata yourself, you unfortunately have to at some juncture allow your patience to run out and override your programming. You must have it within you to slam a door in someone's smug face, hang up a phone mid-sentence when you realize the superiority of the prick on the other end is beyond reason, and scream at a person whose willful stupidity has reached a level of absurdity that no longer amuses you and now pisses you off. 

And if all that fails, you're sick of taking the highroad alone, and you don't have the brain or inclination to think up some Machiavellian scheme that will ruin the person's life and have him (possibly a man named Devon who fancies himself a "highly functioning sociopath" but is actually a gargoyle) end up in a mental institution, hypothetically speaking, or destitute and living in a little fucking rodent-infested hovel, again hypothetically speaking, shove that asshole down a flight of stairs, along with all his belongings and a few of your own you no longer want. Kill two birds with one stone that way.

You will also help out the oxymoronic men's rights movement by justifying their insipid arguments and otherwise "hilarious" jabs that, for instance, there is a critical need for transition house funding to shelter an epidemic of raped and domestically abused men. Keep them safe from all those scary women wielding a broom with one arm and doing biceps curls with the weight of a nursing baby in the other.

But don't actually kill a bird or a person and there is no epidemic problem of women raping and assaulting men. People are way too literal.

Belinda is too decent of a person, however, to even be rude to a Mormon never mind physically hurt one. Her favorite tactic when dealing with potentially awkward social interactions is avoidance, which I support. Despite the bravado above, in reality I'm more a neurotic Dormata like Belinda than a trigger happy black mamba snake, although if I'm pushed hard enough things can get ugly. There is a lot of suppressed rage swept under my doormat patiently waiting for an opportunity to express itself.

With regards to Belinda, a woman who is neither abuser nor victim, when avoidance is impossible because the Mormons, for example, see her peeking out her curtains, she reluctantly answers her door. But she likes to steer their conversations away from dogmatic themes to secular ones. Up until recently, this worked well and the Mormons would follow her lead. 

They would spend most of their early conversations discussing topics such as the weather, geography, tourist attractions, local wildlife, the state of the public school system and "children these days".

At some level Belinda knew their willingness to skirt the real reason they were talking to her was because they were first establishing a good rapport ( an essential ingredient in any relationship where one side has an agenda that doesn't include brute force) before going in for the final kill. 

So she was not necessarily surprised when they started slipping in their true agenda between commenting on the rain with interjections about "God's plan", suggestions that her "good feelings" were a direct result of the Holy Ghost working on her at that very moment, and testimony of the divine authority of one Joseph Smith. Most alarming to Belinda was their mention of the second coming, which they seemed to imply could happen at any moment. Did she have her spiritual house in order?

To help with that spiritual order, they invited her to pray with them and Belinda, feeling like a deer caught in headlights because she isn't the praying type, apologized, saying she couldn't pray right now because she had groceries in the trunk of her car that she had to bring inside. Her ice cream was melting. 

They offered to bring the groceries inside for her and that was how it started. From then on, any time the topic got a little too "religiousy" Belinda would say she had to go. They would respond by offering to do something for her, she would reconsider that she really "had" to go just yet and would relent, allowing the Mormons to do chores for her, which they did with a smile. How could she resist such cheerful, free labour? She couldn't, especially since her house was looking pretty spiffy as a direct result of their volunteer work.

Nevertheless, there came a day when she had had enough of the Mormons. Belinda had no more errands for them and she was worried if she continued to let them come around she'd end up at their church because she had no more excuses left and didn't want to hurt their feelings. She felt she was at risk of becoming an accidental Mormon.

As a consequence, the last time they asked if there was anything they could do for her, which by this time she felt guilty if she didn't come up with some chore for them, instead of drumming up business in her own house, she blurted out that her brother, Jimmy, had recently bought a house across town and needed help with renovations.

Fast forward to several hours later and Jimmy is furiously trying to get a hold of Belinda. It is an angry text, phone call and email Belinda has been expecting. She doesn't answer any of this and ever since has been in self-isolation-lock-down mode. Nothing will make her open her door now. Nothing. 

She knows she no longer has to feel guilty because the Mormons are occupied with Jimmy now -- Jimmy, who like Belinda, having been raised in the same household by the same parents, finds it hard to be mean to nice people, no matter what their cult-agenda. At least she thought the Mormons were busy with Jimmy until seeing them outside our window.

"You really thought all their time and energy was being spent on one potential convert, Belinda?" I look at her doubtfully.

"Yes, I did. His house needs tons of work." 

She seems to be hyperventilating and goes mute, her mind slammed shut by sheer panic. 

I reassure her that we are behind three password-protected, security doors. The Mormons aren't getting in without permission and there is no conceivable reason to give them permission. She is safe.

Then the phone rings. Belinda screams.

Damn Mormons.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Frozen Watch

Theresa's watch is frozen at 6 o'clock. It has been stubbornly keeping the same hour for 40 years. When asked why she holds onto the timepiece, Theresa says, "Why, it's a good watch! It still keeps the time."

Then she smiles and starts humming. No one is sure of the tune. Her eyes glaze over and just like that Theresa is gone, lost in the ancient maze of her disconnected memory.

The Meadows staff and occasional visitor do not pay Theresa much heed. She is a harmless, crazy old woman now, her mind scrambled after years of powerful psychotropic drugs coursing through her veins and electroshock therapy zip-zapping through her brain. Being tied to a bed against her will one too many times and being forced into straight jackets when a kind but firm hand would have done, in addition to numerous stints in isolation further contributed to the loss of her sanity.

"Be careful about spending too much time with those head doctors," she likes to whisper during rare lucid moments. "They're looking for crazy and they ALWAYS find crazy."  She sputters and laughs until the light of cognition goes out and drool escapes from the corner of her mouth.

Time froze for Theresa with the ring of a doorbell. It was her neighbor at the front entrance of he house. He was cradling some sort of limp, bloody animal in his arms – road kill, maybe a dog. Theresa could not tell; there was so much blood.

She does not know what happened after that. It is as if someone came along and hit the eject button right before the climactic scene of a suspenseful movie. The psychiatrists call it "psychogenic amnesia", but Theresa doesn't understand their psychobabble. She pretends to listen intently, if her sedatives don't make it too difficult to concentrate, but in truth she is wondering about her son, Billy.

She furtively glances at her watch: Oh dear, it's dinnertime. Billy is officially late. He should have been home at least 15 minutes ago, so he'd have time to wash up before supper. Billy's father will not be pleased.

Theresa looks up at Dr. Olson, "I'm terribly sorry sir, but I must go. My son is waiting for me, and I still have to get the pot roast out of the oven.”

She attempts to get up to leave, but in her chemical restraints she finds her legs don't work like they once did . She doesn’t struggle or fight to stand. Her spirit was effectively dulled long ago. Instead, she relaxes back into her chair and calmly folds her hands into her lap, but not before checking her watch again. 

She sighs, "What could be keeping Billy?"

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Beautiful People

Brittany needed another $100 for the Louis Vuitton handbag she had to have. Every credit card was over its limit and she had exhausted her other usual avenues for borrowed money, except Jezebel, her sister.

Jezebel had a fat savings account, but despised what she referred to as "the beautiful people".  She wouldn't allow anyone to use a dime of her money, not even a dime that earned interest, towards beauty propaganda. And as far as Jezebel was concerned, Louis Vuitton was propaganda.

Brittany did not understand Jezebel. Jezebel was beautiful, despite her black, thick-rimmed glasses, matted hair, refusal to wear deodorant or cosmetics and clothes that added bulk to her otherwise slim frame.

Perhaps Brittany wasn’t as smart as her sister, but it seemed to her Jezebel's righteous contempt for beautiful people was like a wealthy person's contempt for wealth. Don't lecture the poor money can't buy you happiness if you've never been starving, and don't tell the ugly beauty can't bring you popularity if you've never been marginalized by ugliness.

What cruel twist of fate, thought Brittany, was this? She should have Jezebel's beauty. She should be the one with all that disposable income. She should possess Jezebel's ingenuity and shrewd business sense. It was all wasted on Jezebel. Oh the things Brittany would do if she was Jezebel! 

"Of course you don't understand anything!" Jezebel snapped, startling Brittany out of her bitter ruminations.

"You're nothing but a slave who doesn't know the strength of her weakness. You support a master and don't realize you're doing it...with your expensive fashion you can’t afford."

Brittany felt insulted even though she had no idea what Jezebel was even talking about or if she should be insulted. Normally at times like this Brittany would tune her sister out, but she really, really wanted that bag. She would grovel, if necessary.

Jezebel picked up on Brittany's desperation and in a rare, spontaneous act of compromise offered, "I'll tell you what, if you pick all the blackberries in my yard and do the canning I'll give you the money for your meaningless...trinket."

“That sounds like a lot of work," Brittany complained, "and I don't know how to make jam!"

"That’s fine," Jezebel replied as she thrust a recycled bucket towards Brittany. "I'll oversee everything you do. If you want the purse bad enough, you’ll do what I say — you’ll do the work."

Brittany hesitated — some part of her feeling like she was prostituting a piece of her soul, but that was silly. 

She took the bucket.

Friday, September 11, 2015

The Ashes of Alfred

Alfred was dead, but his ashes still carried the blame for present day miseries. There was much speculation regarding the madness of Alfred. Some said he was schizophrenic and manic-depressive, while others argued he was simply a fucked up alcoholic. Most everyone agreed, however, that at the root of Alfred's problem was an inheritable genetic code that could be passed along to those who came after him like a hot potato nobody wanted to be left holding when the music stopped.



Jean knew firsthand the far-reaching impact of Alfred's insanity. She, like all his descendants, was scrutinized for even the slightest hint of mental instability. Jean, who considered herself a time traveler of sorts -- an amateur family historian -- could not accept the gossip. She was obsessed with uncovering the truth about her great-great-grandfather.

It was impossible to reconcile the handsome man in the black and white photo with the madman Alfred was said to have been. He had a James Dean smile and a flirtatious tilt to his jaw that gave him an aura of charisma. Indeed, it was rumored he could exude such magnetism that people became light-headed just from being near him. This was the man with whom Jean's great-great-grandmother, Marla, had fallen blindly in love.

But Alfred had a dark side.

He was prone to severe melancholy, paranoid delusions and hallucinations. He used moonshine to silence the chatter inside his head, but it only made things worse, especially for his wife and children, who were terrorized by his psychotic rages.

The situation grew so desperate that one night Marla slit her wrists, attempting to divert Alfred's attention from their baby girl, as he tried to drown her in a barrel of rainwater. He was convinced the infant was demonically possessed. Both Marla and the baby died on that black, bloody night, and Alfred was locked away in an insane asylum until he took his own life. The remaining children were orphaned off to relatives and their lives forever tainted by their father's sins.

Jean had to discover for herself if Alfred's madness was truly inborn. She was thus compelled to travel back in time to the Saskatchewan farm where Alfred was raised. There, she found Ruby, 101 years old, who was in possession of a child-sized coffin meant for Alfred when he was eight. Jean looked at the coffin, as if it was a time machine, and listened to Ruby describe how Alfred was expected to die of rheumatic fever, but miraculously survived.

"But he turned strange after that," Ruby confided in a low, gravelly voice, "always talking to himself and banging his head."

Jean, who had been leaning in as she listened to Ruby talk, sat back in her chair now, thinking of Alfred and his fried brain. She thought of how his "recovery" from near death brought him out of one hell that included child labour on a struggling farm and physical abuse from a particularly sadistic father into a new kind of hell. This new hell consisted of long stints in various mental institutions starting from the age of 12 and continuing off and on for the remainder of his life. 

He was  subjected to every kind of "treatment" and shamed with every kind of stigma. He was plagued with all-consuming rage, crippled by overwhelming guilt, tormented with derogatory voices in his head, and debilitated by delusions that were impossible to differentiate from "reality". In the end, this cauldron of confusion was what ultimately killed not only him but his wife and infant daughter.

He was not born mad, after all, Jean thought with bittersweet realization. The world made him that way through virus, abuse and circumstance. His ashes were no more to blame than the dying embers of a previously out of control fire ignited by human folly and stoked by hatred and fear.



And it was then that Jean decided Alfred and his dubious legacy could finally be put to rest. 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Syndrome of Excess: The Devolution has Begun

It seems everything else in nature other than the thing infecting her (Man's greed and cruelty) is aware we are fucked if more people don't wake up. Even our biology suspects something cataclysmic is in the works and is freaking out, as evidenced by the confused state of affairs our bodies have become. 

It's this weird situation where children are suddenly coming down with illnesses and ailments of old age, such as diabetes, morbid obesity, heart disease, brittle bones and the brain atrophy normally associated with dementia, to name but a few. Meanwhile, the old are increasingly living into their 90s and beyond in better health than the youth who should be their surviving descendants, but at this rate will never make it. It's like Nature's laws and assigned roles are reversing, going backwards; even the seasons are confused. We are seeing snow in the summer and scorching heat in the winter.


Only a foolish person walks toward his own destruction ~ Silvanus

This is not a good situation at all, as destructive, barbaric decisions are often born from confusion -- this at a time when we already seem to be destructing or devolving, depending on your perspective (all the hunching over computer monitors, big and small, is beginning to curve our spines back into our pre-upright stage). That's a dangerous kind of synergy.

The parasite is turning on itself like an army of cancer that's figured out its host's cellular creed and is hacking ceaselessly at the security switch. It won't stop until it figures out how to turn the switch off permanently, steal the genetic code and devour everything, laying the entire human race to waste. Extinction.

Indeed, the Canadian Cancer Society is forecasting a dramatic 40% surge in cancers over the next 15 years. And that's not the only place the surge is predicted. We are seeing it in all sorts of diseases, including ones we thought had been either eradicated or nearly so. We are entering an era of renewed epidemics, including an epidemic rise in a deadly cluster of conditions known collectively as Syndrome X. 


The metabolic signs of Syndrome X include hypertension, excessive blood sugar, high triglyceride levels or otherwise abnormal cholesterol values, as well as an expanded midsection. A combination of at least 3 of these risk factors leads to serious illness and premature death.

It's a syndrome of excess, which interestingly is also the same syndrome that is ushering in our premature demise on a global scale. We take too much from each other, whether it's the individuals we interact with, the social groups we belong to, or the nations we spring from. Not only that, we take too much from the animal kingdom we rely on and the natural resources that sustain us. 

And we don't return the favor. 

We take and take and take, gobbling everything up like a mindless Pac-Man leaving nothing but darkness in its wake. And like our other insatiable appetites and expanding midsections, our greed is starting to extend beyond the limits of what is attractive. I imagine from the cosmos humankind is beginning to look pretty ugly right about now, like a former beauty queen who has fallen out of favor with good health in exchange for a lifestyle of vodka, cigarettes and Big Macs.

We've gotten so greedy that we are no longer satisfied with just gorging on the Earth until there is nothing left. We now have our hungry eyes set on space exploration and exploitation. And we're not ready. We should fix our own home before we go rocketing off to invade someone else's.  Our technology is outpacing our humanity. 





No one should be opposed to space exploration for the sake of science, discovery and opening the collective consciousness to new possibilities; however, when the desire to go into space is driven by the same greed that is weakening our planet to the point where we may cause our own extinction, the thought of space "recreation" becomes a tad alarming




The natural world is also alarmed, as evidenced by some unusual phenomena we've been seeing, such as planes falling out of the sky for no clear-cut reason, or in the mysterious case of Malaysian Flight 370, disappearing from the sky altogether, as well as strange, unpleasant, ear-piercing sounds or "skyquakes" being recorded around the globe with no satisfactory explanation (and there are too many recorded examples and firsthand accounts for this to be cast off as a hoax). And if you want a more extensive list of other recognized bizarre phenomena check this out: 25 Strange Phenomena within this Decade that have yet to be Explained.

With regards to our technology outpacing our humanity, take Sir Richard Branson and people of his ilk. Others seem to admire these people, mostly men, particularly someone like Branson, with his fancy, over-the-top island-lifestyle and "philanthropy". Some admire him almost to the point of worship, but his self-serving "philanthropy" doesn't negate the fact he is a greedy, spiritually empty man, just like the rest of the mega-rich, and isn't satisfied with just conquering the Earth; now the animal has its insatiable desires directed towards space. 

Learn to control your greed for power (which is really nothing more than a manipulated base evolutionary urge that more evolved members of humankind are not ruled by) before you attempt to climb up the evolution ladder


Jacob's Dream ~ William Blake
We don't want your ego-maniacal greed on the ladder. It doesn't propel us, it drags us down and if you insist on moving up the ladder before you've advanced past your basic urges, urges such as uncontrolled lust and greed, there will be consequences. 

This was precisely the case when Virgin Galactic attempted its first test flight into space. Tragedy and death. But has that made Branson and company pause and reconsider what exactly is motivating them and why, as well as the ethical implications? No, it has not, other than perhaps a split-second of self-reflection Branson quickly shrugged off. He clearly does not care. Action speaks louder than words. If his venture fails and more people needlessly die, he can go back to his private island with his ridiculous title and self-gratify with his equally ridiculous, equally entitled and equally irresponsible wealthy friends. 

Fuck you, "sir" Richard Branson. Go fly another kite with another clueless naked model, you wrinkly, self-indulgent asshole. It all boils down to that doesn't it? At the root of EVERYTHING, that is really the only thing these animals care about: Power over naked, subjugated females who have been tricked into believing they actually want to be reduced to little more than physically augmented and mutilated jesters in nothing but a garter-belt  performing on a stage before a lust-thirsty audience, even when it comes to scientific discovery and space exploration! 



Nothing like cashing in on the fruits of rape culture and sexualizing space tourism with a sexist logo to lure in the gross, greedy, wrinkly old men who have the lion's share of the world's wealth and resources and the moral compass of a worm.  Men who could never attract the  kind of "prized" female they are so obsessed with if not for their disgusting wealth.

Case in point, one particular abomination of decency that goes by the name "Pornhub" is currently crowdfunding a space mission to film a couple of lesser evolved cretins sexually degrading each other for all the world to witness while in orbit. 

Looking around the world today, in this so-called "Information Age" (which is misleading because "information" and "wisdom" are often mistaken as synonymous when they most definitely are NOT the same thing),  it seems the animal is hellbent on " sexualizing, with ever-increasing depravity, every single human concern. 

This is unfortunate because there are humanity-altering consequences to all this sexual depravity, which a significant number are in denial about, even though the signs are EVERYWHERE. And the signs are multiplying, the latest "surprise" being a new viral adversary to the battle named Zika

If this is progress, we are screwed in more ways than one.

It's strange that the rest of the natural world seems to sense we may well be permanently screwed and are entering into a kind of "end of days" scenario and yet we, who are supposedly the "brains" of the operation, are not seeing it.

The signs again are everywhere. What's with the denial? 

The clues could not be any more blatant than if an enormous Frankenstein hand reached down from the clouds and hit humanity upside the head with a big whack heard around the globe and an exasperated voice of thunder calling us all damn fools!! We've entered the Age of the Idiots

We are the idiots.

The animal kingdom sees it and is becoming desperate over what to do about us, the idiots, ruining it for EVERYONE. They have become so alarmed by human entitlement and recklessness that they've resorted to simply attacking us in some instances (the sudden spike in shark attacks is one example). 

They also incidentally appear to be aware of the likes of Richard Branson and his kind. So appalled are they with this man's god complex, and the greed, self-exhalation and blatant hypocrisy regarding wildlife conservation he represents, that they evidently recruited a  troop of stingrays to attack him and show him exactly what they think of him and his stupid, perpetual smile: Richard Branson left bloodied and cut after being ATTACKED by deadly stingrays.

In other instances, the animal kingdom attempt a more gentle approach by modelling the Golden Rule, such as the recent story of a rhino risking its own life to lift a baby zebra out of a pit of mud.

Even creatures that generally do not attack humans are joining the fight. Seagulls are dive-bombing pedestrians in the street in retaliation for their fallen comrades, the crows, who are now infected with West Nile virus and are dropping dead from their perches.

In addition to shark attacks, bizarre stories are springing up around the planet's waters of other sea-life, such as dolphins and sea lions, attacking human beings in retaliation of their fallen comrades, the whales whose corpses are inexplicably washing up on both east and west coasts, transforming beaches on every coast into mass graves.


The deer are charging pedestrians out walking their dogs, or in one case killing a farmer tending his herd, in defense of the squirrels who are dying from THE PLAGUE of all things. The plague!

There are numerous stories around the globe, too, of thousands of dead fish washing ashore; in some situations there are so many of these dead fish that at first glance it looks like an expansive pebbled beach, but on closer inspection the realization dawns those aren't rocks, those are dead bodies! It's a fish holocaust. 

A similar baffling situation is happening with enormous flocks of various bird species dropping dead from the sky. We have moved beyond simple canaries dead in the coal mine.

Mother Nature seems to be sending out a kind of "call to duty" to the spiders as well, much to the dismay of arachnophobics everywhere. The spiders have answered the call and are busily draping nature and her trees in huge protective webs. 

Then we have the wind: In addition to the other signs that something is amiss in the world, stories of massive windstorms, hurricanes and tornadoes wreaking havoc all over the place are impossible to ignore. And for the sake of time, let's not get started on the famines, wars, migrant crises, and massive fires and droughts happening throughout the world.




Thus, in summary, we now have all four elements of Air, Fire, Water and Earth engaged in this cosmic Game of Risk, in which the number one enemy is human stupidity and let's face it, as much as we hate using the word because, with self-satisfaction we arrogantly think we are "above" such "primitive" notions, immorality. Welcome to Babylon. We've been waiting for you.

Most alarming is that even "theoretical" phenomena, the source of all this miracle and mystery that few appear to believe in anymore, seems to be turning a curious eye towards us. Let us all hope this curious eye is one of peace and redemption, interested in nurturing us out of our present Heart of Darkness into a better, kinder, more homeostatic way of living and NOT one of angry annihilation. 



Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Flower Apocalypse

A florist truck pulls up to the building as Belinda and I stand at the window watching with interest. It’s curious because a delivery of a dozen red roses was made only yesterday to Megan, who is no stranger to clichéd gestures of romance from good looking, eager young men trying to get her in the sack. But even so, 2 days in a row? For the rest of us even a single incident of an unexpected flower delivery is an impossible fantasy spurred on by Megan’s life.

Belinda, for example, is not as successful as Megan in the suitor department and lets out a derisive "whatever" when the flower delivery boy disappears from sight. Belinda has no problem with Megan, a warm, outgoing girl who everyone likes, but it isn't right that she (Megan) should get all the flowers in the world while Belinda gets what? The last gift she got from a guy was a bulk sized package of 4-ply toilet paper. He thought she'd be impressed with all the plies. She was not.

But this is the way it goes for Belinda. 

The men who take a fancy to her are usually flawed in some socially identifiable or physically unappealing way. Like Megan, albeit a slightly older version, Belinda is a warm, inviting person with a pretty face. Unlike most people, however, Belinda possesses that exceedingly rare quality of actually listening without interruption when others speak. She is both inquisitive and humanitarian by nature and all of these qualities combine to create a woman who is irresistible to the marginalized amongst us, whether they be mentally "unique" individuals, people with a lot of ailments and complaints no one else wants to hear about, or inappropriate men. 

Their inappropriateness is drawn to her like insects to a light bulb. This is unfortunate because while Belinda wouldn't hurt a fly, she has no desire to kiss one.

She also does not want to kiss a dog, which is where the problem began with a man named Rufus. 

She worked with Rufus at a second part-time job she picked up to bring in some extra cash, and an easy flirtation developed between them, as tends to happen when the sexes work closely together. For her part, Belinda was in no way physically attracted to Rufus, but she enjoyed his quirky personality – always a precarious situation with the potential for misunderstandings and mixed signals. 

As such, it seemed inevitable that there would come a day when Rufus would attempt to transition from workplace friend to boyfriend material. Belinda, however, was so uninterested in him in any romantic sense that she couldn’t even get his name straight. 

She had always associated the name “Rufus” with a dog and when she thought of a dog she immediately thought of Clifford the Big Red Dog, a favorite fictional character from her childhood. As a consequence, the two names somehow got interchanged in her subconscious and every time she addressed Rufus it came out as “Clifford”.  She never realized she was doing it and oddly Rufus never corrected her. 

Eventually she altogether forgot his name was Rufus and referred to him exclusively as Clifford. By the time we had heard the last of Rufus, anyone who knew of Rufus strictly through Belinda talking about him had no idea his name wasn't Clifford.

Things came to a head one day when I recognized Rufus in the grocery store from a picture Belinda had shown me at some point on her iPhone. I had spoken to him on the phone before, but this was the first time I had seen him in the flesh. I called out his name. 

He completely ignored me. 

He must not have heard me, I reasoned, and called his name a little louder. 

He still ignored me, so I went up to him, touched his shoulder and said, "Hi Clifford, I'm a friend of Belinda's. We've spoken on the phone before".

He looked at me baffled and not a little scared, as if I was an insane woman who had escaped the asylum and the voices in my head had wrongly identified him as some poor slob named Clifford.

"You have the wrong person. I'm not Clifford," he told me as he inched away. 

When I reported back to Belinda what happened, she laughed at what she thought was MY mistake, "His name isn't Clifford, you buffoon! It's Rufus!"

I glared at her. Was it possible she didn't know SHE was the one who kept calling him Clifford? 

Yes, it was possible. 

It took some convincing and I had to invite a couple witnesses into the conversation to confirm that she had indeed been talking a lot about a guy named Clifford, not Rufus, before she'd believe me. The"Clifford the Big Red Dog/Rufus" mix-up in her subconscious theory only seemed obvious after that.

She sat down, stunned. "Well, that's it," she said, "I can't have anything to do with a guy who just accepts me calling him by the wrong name without correcting me. I don't think I'll be returning Clifford's calls any time soon!"

"You see? You did it again," I pointed out.

Belinda shook her head, "What are you talking about?"

"You called him Clifford again. His name is Rufus."

"I can't stand it!" Belinda clutched her head, "I hate men!!"

"On the bright side," I offered, "at least now you can stop feeling so guilty about rejecting his advances".

Rufus has since gone to the dogs of obscurity, but to this day when we refer to his memory we snidely, with full awareness, call him Clifford. 

Belinda's latest unwanted acquisition in the male insect department is an insect named Paul who likes her significantly more than she likes him. She finds him incredibly irritating, in the same way a fly buzzing around your ear that you can't get at is irritating. I don't know why she can't get rid of him. Flyswatters are cheap.

But Belinda rejects my fly analogy. She doesn't see him as a fly so much as a potato

"He never wants to do anything and he NEVER does anything nice for me. I do all the giving. He's never given me so much as a blade of grass, never mind roses! All he does is lie around all day watching TV like a big, fat, hairy couch potato, expecting me to serve him".

I used to encourage Belinda she could do better than these weirdos and parasitic assholes that tend towards her, and that she should walk away from tag-a-longs like Paul -- life is too short to waste it on so much bullshit. But I have since come to realize she is addicted to the role of martyr and saviour. So now I listen in amusement to her litany of complaints. I'll leave her to do her own self-reflections and arrive at her own life-changing epiphanies in her own time.

Thus, rather than once again tell her she should kick Paul to the curb, I suggested we christen him "Potato Paul" in honor of his potato couch proclivities. I have my own proclivity towards alliteration. I don't know why but I find it infinitely funny. My children think I'm ridiculous.

But Belinda didn't think my suggestion was ridiculous: "Yes, he is a potato! He should be called Potato Paul!"

We've been calling him Potato Paul ever since, unbeknowst, of course, to Paul, although Belinda lives in mortal fear she will call him Potato Paul to his face, particularly after the whole Rufus/Clifford fiasco. She has already caught herself a couple of times, which didn't escape Potato Paul's notice. But he isn't the brightest guy so she was able to redirect his attention easily enough. She doesn't know how long she's going to be able to do that, though. He's gross, dumb and boring (the character triad of a bad man as opposed to the enigma of a good one) but he still has some fraction of a brain in his potato head.

Getting back to the florist's truck outside our window, I turn to Belinda now and ask, "What would you do if the flower delivery was for you from Potato Paul? Would you like him more or drop dead in shock?"

"It would depend on the flower," she replied, "but I highly doubt Potato Paul knows my favorite flower is the Stargazer lily even though I've told him."

I agree that he probably doesn't know even though he has been told. Imagine how much richer life would be if more of us were paying attention.

"If he did send you flowers," I muse, "guaranteed they'd be red roses. Not that there's anything wrong with roses, except it shows a complete lack of imagination. Personally, I'd be more impressed by a thoughtful dandelion picked from my front yard. At least that's helpful. My lawnmower is broken. A dozen roses though? We've seen the documentary, we've read the articles. We are both aware of the damage the cut flower trade has on the planet." 

I have to stop myself before I launch into a full-blown soapbox condemnation of why it's wrong for the developed world to exploit the developing world's resources. 

Roses are the prized trophies of the slave trade in the flower world. All the other flowers, who are otherwise envious of the Rose's superior beauty, are glad they weren't born roses. Even the beautiful have an ugly burden to carry in a world where greed is the dominant driving force.

Somebody needs to save the roses!

Good God.

I also have to stop myself because the annoyed look of "here we go again with the dramatics" flashing across Belinda's face does not escape my notice. Nobody likes to listen to me. Sometimes it feels like I will burst.

"I don't know about dandelions," Belinda says, happy I've put a cap on the save the roses speech, "but my favorite roses are yellow ones. It's my next favorite flower after lilies."

Before I can say what my favorite flower is, we are interrupted by a knock on the door. We look up and in walks the flower delivery boy. He has a delivery for Belinda.

We are taken aback at first and then start giggling as she opens the box and unwraps tissue to reveal, you guessed it, a dozen red roses courtesy of Potato Paul. Despite our earlier cynicism, we are both delighted by the surprise and I run to grab a vase from down the hall. 

When I return, Belinda is bent over in her chair in convulsions. It's impossible to tell if she's laughing, sobbing or having a seizure until I get up close to her and see sitting on her desk a bouquet of 12 thorny stems devoid of all but 5 of their heads. 

Belinda is laughing so hard she can't speak. All she can do is point at the flower box still on the floor at her feet. In it are seven decapitated red rose heads. 



When she calms down enough to speak in coherent sentences, she explains that as she lifted the bouquet out of the box, one by one 7 of the heads popped clean off like the tops of dandelions. 

"Mama had a baby and it's head popped off," I say without thinking, my voice trailing off, which causes Belinda to erupt into renewed laughter.

It is so strange, almost like the flower traffickers were sending us (or perhaps just me since I'm the one who will rant about it if given half the chance) a cryptic message. And not for the first time in my life or even on this day, I think what an absurd place the world is. 

Where am I that one of the four horsemen of the Flower Apocalypse comes in the form of a potato called Paul, who can't even get right a scripted romantic gesture that requires no mental exertion whatsoever, men are named after dogs, and no one is acknowledging the gorilla in the room? His name is Ishmael if anyone else cares.

Sometimes my surroundings seem so alien and nonsensical to me that I feel like Alice in Wonderland and wonder if I was born in the wrong dimension, like some sort of big cosmic mistake in which I got on the wrong train by accident. 

I feel like there must be a parallel universe out there waiting for me at a station I don't know exists, just as puzzled as I am over what is going on around here. In fact, it is not uncommon for me when I'm alone in my house to raise my hands towards the ceiling and say out loud, "WHAT the hell is going on around here?"

Either that or I'll sing the customized lyric (but only if no one is around because I really shouldn't be singing), "There's something happening here, what it is, IS NOT FUCKING CLEAR."